1 roster spot Tommy Hunter can steal this spring

Feb 23, 2023; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA;  New York Mets pitcher Tommy Hunter poses for a picture
Feb 23, 2023; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets pitcher Tommy Hunter poses for a picture / Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Tommy Hunter feels like a bit of a long shot to make the New York Mets Opening Day roster. It’s nothing to do with his performance. More so, his presence on the roster means he’s a potential temporary bullpen piece.

There is one place where he could fit in. The ongoing battle between out of options reliever Stephen Nogosek and Rule 5 Draft pick Zach Greene could end with neither making the Opening Day roster. Hunter, a veteran who has had success elsewhere and with the Mets during the past two years, might actually be a better fit.

NY Mets pitcher Tommy Hunter can prove experience outweighs potential

The Mets want optional relievers on the roster, and if they do it right, they can begin the 2023 season with two spots where they can have it. The long-man competition between Elieser Hernandez and Joey Lucchesi is one of those roster spots. The other belongs to the group of pitchers that includes John Curtiss, Bryce Montes de Oca, etc.

Greene and Nogosek get lumped together because of the shorter leash. The Mets can afford to carry one, but not both. Hunter should be in consideration if the team views experience over potential.

The bigger picture plan for the Mets should be to give one of the younger guys a chance on the Opening Day roster even if it means an inevitable goodbye; as long as they’ve shown they deserve it. Hunter doesn’t really need to even be on the 40-man roster until the team is ready to promote him. Even after possibly returning Greene to the New York Yankees or designating Nogosek for assignment, the 40-man roster spot doesn’t necessarily have to go to Hunter. He is protected on his minor league contract. Why have him take up room? This isn’t a television taping where you need to fill up all of the seats.

Hunter is in a similar situation as Mets outfielder Tim Locastro. The plan for him should be to wait until at least August and use him throughout September as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. When rosters expand to 28 in September and the team doesn’t need as many starters in the postseason, Locastro has even more room to spread out.

Hunter isn’t a specialist to add to the roster, but he is someone to have in case of a lengthy injury. Something the Mets have done incredibly well is map out the 162-game schedule. Hunter should be penciled in around game 81 yet he is capable of forcing his way into the picture from the starting gun.

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